Cammy-2, Reptiles-0

After watching the Cardinals lose the two games we traveled a thousand miles and paid a jillion dollars to see, we said enough! We packed our bags and set off on the Tamiami Trail (pronounced “tammy-ammy” which all neatly rhymes with “cammy”) to cross the Florida Everglades, a.k.a. River of Grass. There be alligators and other reptiles there. In abundance.

Note: For you bicycling types, there’s a big Everglades bike ride planned for April 17th.

Our first stop–well, the second after Subway for sandwiches–was for something kind of different: Buffalo Tiger’s Airboat Tours. Mom and I weren’t really interested in an airboat tour, but yesterday was Dad’s day to choose, and he really, really wanted to go for the ride. It didn’t seem fair to make him go by himself after he had so gamely joined in the things we wanted to do, so we paid our $20 and got in the $%*@ boat.

The two snakes curled up on the pier looking like they were just waiting for us to be left alone there had nothing to do with it. Honest!

As these things so often evolve, I had a wonderful time! Our guide, Ernie, was a charming and knowledgeable Indian man, who smoothly navigated the boat through the shallow waters while pointing out different species of plants and animals. I don’t mind admitting that the first time I saw a heron rise out of the reeds to fly alongside us for a few hundred yards, I teared up. So beautiful.

Ernie stopped the boat completely a couple of times, and as we sat there listening to his commentary on the surroundings, alligators started swimming toward the boat. Bunches of them! We thought they were coming for the human buffet, but it turns out that Ernie feeds them chunks of bread in exchange for them not eating him or his passengers while he points out the various alligator parts to the tourists.

The most exciting part came when we docked at an Indian camp way the heck out in the middle of nowhere (we could no longer hear any highway noise), and Ernie put Your Faithful Reporter to work:

Cammy scratches alligator

Cammy, making nice with the cute little alligator

Note: Had I known I would have been photographed, I would have worn a more flattering shirt. I thought we would be in the car all day.

Ernie instructed me to approach from the front because alligators can’t see straight ahead and to scratch way back behind her eyes. Cool! Not pictured is when he had me reach way under her chin and lift her head back. Cool! She never even flinched.

I did notice in this picture that she seemed to be eyeballing my shoes or perhaps the fleshy white meat that are my legs:

alligator looking at my shoes

My tippy toes seem to get attention!

Mom got in the act, later in the day:

My mom touching concrete alligator

Mom meets vicious alligator

Lots of fun and more importantly, a great gift to spend some time enjoying an area that may someday vanish if we don’t get our act together. If you’re in the area, I highly recommend the trip. I’m a convert!

After all that excitement, we motored on to Naples (too crowded and overbuilt) and then onto Ft Myers for the night. This morning started on Sanibel Island where I saw my first osprey!

Osprey in a treetop


It was grooming itself and the wingspan on this thing was HUGE! I wish I could have seen it fly away, but I was busy picking up shells when it left. :)

After the alligator excitement, this little cutie didn’t get a rise out of me when he appeared on wall was leaning against:



Besides, he’s nowhere near as big as my house lizard.

On to St Petersburg, where our happy trio split up for a couple of days. Mom and Dad are ensconced in some hotel on the beach while I am using some reward cards for a hotel on the bayside. I’m going to meet up with some friends in the area (more on that later, I promise!) tomorrow, and then we’ll connect again to begin to wind our way home. (I think. Mom is making noises about going to New Orleans. I think she forgot I’m unemployed, which does give me time to travel but doesn’t provide the funds for it. LOL)

Left on my own for dinner, I opted for Village Inn, which we don’t have in Memphis. I knew it was a good decision when I saw this sign on the table:

free pie night at Village Inn

Free Pie!

Sure, I could’ve passed it up, but it’s FREE PIE!

So I ordered this:

grilled chicken & fruit salad

Grilled Chicken with Fruit Salad

It was tasty! And then I had (FREE) apple cinnamon pie. It was okay, but it didn’t complement the salad very well. Lemon meringue would have been soooo much better. Unfortunately, it wasn’t FREE so I stuck with apple.

After the great pie extravaganza, I headed over to Clearwater Beach and walked a bit, and then joined a couple thousand other people to watch the sunset:

Clearwater sunset

Clearwater Beach Sunset

Perfect end to the day! Or almost end. I came back to my hotel and took advantage of the onsite laundry to wash some clothes. And now I’m off to bed to get some much-needed rest. Not a lot of that (or official exercise) happening on this trip!

12 thoughts on “Cammy-2, Reptiles-0

  1. I think you should get a job as a travel writer! I loved every word of this! Sounds like you’re having a great time.

  2. Free pie! That’s like hitting the lottery. Oh, and the alligators were cool, too. Sounds like you are having an awesome time.

    “Watch out for the gator, baby.”

    Free pie!

  3. Oh my goodness! I’m speechless over the alligators… on so many levels. 1. I can’t believe you were willing to risk your hand by reaching out to touch the alligator; 2. I can’t believe the tour company person actually permitted you to do so (the lawyer in me is FREAKING OUT over the liability issue); and 3. the idea of bunches of alligators swarming toward a boat I was in would have induced a possible panic attack.

    Looks like you had GREAT fun!!! :)

  4. I agree with Hanlie, you would make a great travel writer Cammy!

    What wonderful pics & sounds like a time to remember. Not so sure I would be as brave with the alligator!!! WOW!

    AND free pie – wahoo!

    That sunset & all the other pics – amazing!!!

  5. I’m so glad you share your adventures!!! You’re a great travel writer too.
    Seriously, I’m living vicariously through you.
    What a nice way to spend time with people you love.

  6. Hey Cammy,

    Love your travelogue! Watch out around those alligators though, okay. You might run into one that has contact lenses or something and IS able to see straight ahead . . . .

  7. This is so funny, Cammy. We’re going to FL in a couple of weeks and an airboat ride is what my brother has decided he wants to do! Glad to know what I’m going to be up against!

  8. First: it was SO nice to have brunch with you today!! Excitement and all and yes I blogged about it.

    Second the alligator is wondering if that drumstick comes with buffalo sauce…oh wait, drumstick, leg..whatever it does look like she’s eyeing you up!

    Third we have those lizards everywhere and I’m constantly yelling at Max to SPIT IT OUT…clearly chubbins is underfed.

    Fourth…I live in an area that is a bird sanctuary and I do agree with the herons, they are so amazing to watch, we have the osprey and many other species around here but the herons are my favorites.

    Fifth…holy cow can you believe a CAR CRASHED THROUGH THE WALL!! I’m still in shock, seriously in shock

    It was so nice to see you again, can’t wait until you’re back down again :)

  9. Pingback: Winding Down, Gearing Up

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